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July 2020 | Protection

Ben Burgess: Five helpful protection changes

Ben Burgess is senior protection adviser at LifeSearch

We are all becoming more aware of the economic, logistical, and administrative limitations the pandemic has wrought upon our industry. Simply put, it has not been the greatest 10 weeks. 

We have had to adapt our professional and personal lives to make the best of a bad situation and insurers have been forced to do the same.

For extremely vulnerable clients with serious underlying health conditions, this means prolonged postponements.

However, for clients with negligible health concerns, higher risk jobs, or financial underwriting limitations, some insurers have made it easier than ever for them to get cover in place.

There have been dozens of announcements and changes from providers and, up to now, these are some of the ones we have found most helpful: 

1. The first positive change is that many insurers are now encouraging customers to provide their own supporting medical information on the back of a completed application. This negates the need to automatically write out to a GP for medical evidence. Consultant letters, test results, and more readily available access to their own medical records online are ways that clients can bypass a GP report and secure cover in a few days rather than a few months.

2. If the evidence provided by the client proves to be insufficient, only a handful of insurers are still writing out to surgeries. They are Aegon, Scottish Widows, Royal London, LV=, L&G, Guardian, and Zurich. With most of the population avoiding their GP surgeries, the turnaround time
on completed reports has dramatically improved. We are talking a matter of weeks as opposed to a matter of months, which is extremely beneficial for both clients and advisers alike. 

3. In the era of social distancing, nurse screenings for financial limits have also become nearly impossible.  As a result, Royal London, Scottish Widows, LV=, and Guardian have all increased their limits by 10% to allow customers to get more cover straight off the application. As of June 1, AIG, Aviva, LV= and Canada Life have all reimplemented face-to-face screenings. The worst-case scenario is that cover can still be split between multiple insurers, which eliminates the need for a screening in the first place. 

4. When it comes to frontline workers who have been exposed to individuals with a confirmed or suspected Covid diagnosis, as long as the frontline worker themself hasn’t had symptoms within the past 30 days, AIG, Royal London, and LV= will offer them cover straight off the application. Their underwriting philosophies are commendable, especially when it comes to income protection. Frontline workers are putting themselves at risk on a daily basis, so it must be very comforting for them to know their insurance company appreciates them and has their back. 

5. For clients who have been furloughed or made redundant, insurers are also offering deferred premiums and career breaks as well as decreased levels of cover, which allows people who were thinking about cancelling their policies to have some form of protection in place with a lower monthly premium.

There are insurers out there who will get our customers what they need. Advisers just need to remain pragmatic in our recommendations and stay positive.